Babies. They have adorable teeny tiny fingernails and the best smelling heads in the world.
They’re also pretty demanding. Like, I-haven’t-showered-for-three-days demanding, my-cup-of-tea-went-cold-again demanding, and oh-lord-I-am-so-touched-out demanding.
Yep, those newborns, they sure do need their mamas. It won’t last forever, pretty soon that tiny baby will be crawling, then walking, then driving one of those brightly coloured plastic ride-along cars away from you as you chase him around and beg him to slow down.
Then, you’ll have time to do the laundry and cook nice dinners and straighten your hair, but for now, those things probably feel pretty impossible.
How do you cook a decent dinner when you’re busy feeding a baby who Will Not Be Put Down? How do you do anything when you’re busy changing nappies, enduring cluster feeds and just generally being needed all the damn time?
10 Ways To Ask For The Help You Need When You Have A Baby
Truth is, you don’t. You get rid of the non-essentials (hello, Bert and Ernie unibrow), you go into survival mode and you do what you can. It won’t last long, but it can be pretty frustrating in the meantime.
Some days, your body will ache for a bath, your arms will tire of holding the baby and you’ll crave a few minutes to yourself. That’s normal and it’s fine and it’s doable – you just need to ask. Ask for help? The horror! Here are some tips to get you started:
#1: Know You Don’t Have To Do It All
You are not a one-woman show, you don’t have to do everything all by yourself all of the time. You’ve just had a baby, go easy on yourself. It’s ok to let things slip a little.
There is no shame in asking for help. Your life will be a lot easier, not to mention more enjoyable, if you ask for help when you need it. You’re still a strong woman and an independent mama, you just know how much you can achieve and when to ask for a helping hand.
#2: Ask Your Nearest & Dearest
Your mama, your sister, your best friend – they’re all in your team and this is a great opportunity for them to prove it. Pick somebody you feel comfortable asking for help and see if they’re free to help you out.
You’ve probably been in this situation before, you want to help somebody but you just don’t know what they need so you offer a vague ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’ and then retreat. People like helping, they just need clear instruction of how to help, so give them specific tasks they can help you with.
#3: Help Him Help You
Your partner might be just as clueless when it comes to knowing how to help. Be clear about your expectations and how he can help, and this will take some of the stress away from both of you. Even just little things can make life a lot easier.
For example, could he take down the dirty laundry each morning and stick a load on before work? Or could he make dinner whilst you’re feeding the dinner? Or could he have some daddy-baby bonding time so you can have a bath and relax for a little bit? Whatever it is that would make your life a little bit happier, ask for it.
#4: Ask Online
If you’re worried people won’t know how to say no and you’d prefer to avoid asking individuals just in case, trying utilising social media to find helpers. A quick, concise post could be all your need. For example, “I’m exhausted today, is anyone free to come and cuddle the baby for an hour or so this afternoon so I can take a nap?”
It’s not addressed to anyone in particular so you’ll know those who offer actually want to help. Plus, it’s a great way to use social media to improve your life.
#5: Be Clear
The most important skill as a new mama, aside from the ability to survive on zero sleep, is honesty. You need to put yourself first (well, ok, second) and be honest with those around you.
Your life will be a lot easier if you learn to say no to unwanted visitors, politely decline unsolicited parenting advice and how to ask for the help you need. If you need somebody to come and sort out your mountain of laundry or dirty dishes, say that. If you’d love for someone to quickly hoover the hallway or dust in the living room, say that. People only know what you tell them so make sure you tell them the truth.
#6: Say No
Turn down unwanted help. If you don’t need something doing, be honest. There’s no point letting your mother-in-law tire herself out weeding the garden when you give zero craps whether it’s weeded or not. If somebody offers to come round and help but you’d rather they didn’t, just make an excuse.
These newborn days are too short to waste doing something out of politeness. Right now, you don’t need to be polite. You need to look after your baby and make it through the exhaustion, that’s it.
#7: Don’t Let People Steal All The Cuddles
Everybody wants to help out cuddling babies. It’s actually the best thing ever. They fall asleep on you, they smell great and they keep you warm. Who wouldn’t want that?
Of course, you’re going to have a queue of people at the front door when you ask for someone to cuddle the baby. But cuddling the baby is your job! It’s the laundry and the dishes and the food prep that you should be outsourcing. Don’t give away all your newborn snuggles, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to bond with your baby.
You know the wistful-eyed old ladies who stop you in the supermarket to warn you how fast it goes? They’re not fondly reminiscing about all the time they spent washing dishes while other people cuddled their babies, they’re remembering the cuddles. Enjoy those cuddles, you earned them. But don’t be afraid to ask for willing volunteers when you need a break from the constant cuddles!
#8: Pay For Help
If you can afford to, you can pay for help. You could pay for a cleaner to come and clean the bathrooms and kitchen every week or you could hire a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula will make sure you get to bond with your baby because she’ll be busy taking care of everything else. You can find out more in Postnatal Doulas – 8 Reasons Why You Should Hire One.
A mother’s help will take care of any household jobs and also watch the baby whilst you get some much-needed shut-eye. If you can afford it, there is help out there so don’t be afraid to find out for what best suits your needs.
#9: Ask Your Healthcare Provider
If you can’t afford to pay for help, there may be free help available to you. If you’re struggling to stay on top of everything, speak to your healthcare provider for advice.
If they agree that you need it, they may be able to find you some help for a couple of hours each week just to help you get yourself sorted.
#10: Find Your Village
It takes a village to raise a child, or so the saying goes. Modern life can be pretty isolating and that is rarely more true than when you first become a mother. It’s not easy to raise kids alone and, most importantly, you shouldn’t have to.
Life is easier when we all pull together and help each other out. Go out there and find your mamas – the women in your tribe who will support you and help you and look out for you. They’re the women who will hold your baby so you can sleep, who will come round with chocolate when you’ve had a bad day, and who know what you’re going there because they’re right there with you in the trenches of motherhood. These women are out there, all you have to do is go find them.